Monthly Archives: May 2011

A public service announcement

Dear LGRAB readers:

Summer weather is here. The sun is strong. Riding 10+ miles without proper protection is not recommended.

Here’s hoping that this is the kind of sunburn that is here today, tan tomorrow.

Thank goodness for the SPF 15 in my face lotion

The cats care not for my suffering

The ride to East Nashville was worth it, but I won’t make this mistake twice. Maybe now that I’ve mentioned it, you won’t make it once.

Love,

Trisha the red xo

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Cycling in a Shorter Dress

When I blogged about bicycling in this dress, reader Krista commented, “You seriously need to tell me your secret to riding a bike in a dress like that! I would be flashing drivers left and right!” My response is that with tights as insurance, flashing is not a worry with that particular dress: it lays firmly, does not ride up, and does not flap in the breeze.

Indeed, most skirts and dresses are great for cycling. In The Best Skirts for Cycling, we discussed the categories of structure, fabric and length that tend to work best. However, there are always exceptions.  The only way to know for sure whether a particular garment poses a flashing risk is to test each individually. I was reminded of this by the new dress that I wore when I got caught in a thunderstorm last week.

I figured that it would be fine on the bike because, although it is shorter than my usual hemline, it is longer than the other dress and is made of heavy silk.  As soon as I straddled my bike, though, I knew that it would not work.  The dress rode way up for some reason and even with opaque black tights underneath, I did not feel comfortable. I pulled over and tied my coat around my waist in order to feel decent. Simple solution – problem solved. I was able to ride to and from work without worrying about flashing anyone. An even simpler solution than when I stapled my skirt.

For those of you who cycle in skirts and dresses, feel free to share your experiences with different types in the comments.

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Cherry Blossoms, Finally!

Cherry blossoms are finally starting to bloom, a month later than last year.

That is all. :)

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Unexpected Thunderstorms

Last weekend a friend asked me and Trisha what we do about thunderstorms, and we both agreed that we simply do not bike in them. However, that is a simplified, partially true statement. The full explanation is that I choose not to bike in the morning if, at the time of leaving, hard rain is actively falling or the forecast all but guarantees thunderstorms. I tend to ignore vague forecasts for the possibility of thunderstorms in the evening, because so many times when I started bike commuting, I was tricked into not biking when the weather was fine.

Which is how I now end up biking home in thunderstorms more than I would like.

My commute is long enough to give the weather ample time to change (30 minutes) but short enough that I feel okay pushing through bad weather. I wait out storms with thunder and lightening, but the most common scenario has me leaving work just before the sky opens up, and once I’m already on my bike, only the worst conditions could stop me. Otherwise, I push on through cautiously but assertively.

Such was the case last night.

Photo from last year. Imagine this, but dark.

Leaving a fundraiser benefit for my employer, the weather seemed fine, although the night sky was too dark to see clouds. Only after I biked half a mile did the rain suddenly start pouring. Thunder and lightening soon followed.

I was wearing an elegant black ensemble: a silk dress, blazer, tights and dress shoes.  I had a raincoat tied around my waist because my new dress became way too short on the bike (more about that later) and for visibility, not because I anticipated rain.  After the storm started, I considered pulling over to put the raincoat on, but did not want to lose momentum, so I continued all the way home as I was.  Of course, by the end of my commute, the storm had calmed to a drizzle. Arriving home, drenched and drowned-rat-esque, I immediately hung my clothes to dry and took a hot shower.  This morning, both the clothes and I are fine. My Po Campo bag, which is advertised only as water resistant, amazingly kept all of my contents safe and dry.

There is a lot of talk on bike blogs and forums about gear like rain pants, ponchos, etc.  Those accessories are important in some situations (like if I were on my way to the event), but if you’re going straight home, there is nothing terrible about getting caught in the rain in your regular clothes. I do not want newer bike commuters to worry that they are not properly prepared for bicycling until they acquire all that stuff.

I am grateful that I had my Planet Bike Superflash.  Powerful lights are always important when riding in the rain, especially at night.

Somebody tell me that I’m not the only one with bad luck when it comes to getting stuck in the rain. What do you do when unexpected thunderstorms hit?

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Nashville!

I’m back from Trishaville, aka Nashville. Although I lived there for only three years and moved away four years ago, Nashville is my favorite city to return to again and again, simply because of Trisha and other friends.  And there’s something about the South that calls to me, although I spent my youth hatching escape plans.

My three days with Trisha were full of awesomeness, of course: used bookstores, a British sitcom marathon, a discount designer warehouse, French breakfast, fancy ice cream, duck fat tater tots, Yazoo beer and live music at the Mercy Lounge (Those Darlins!).  Plus, I finally got to meet Trisha’s brother, Charlie.  Hmmm what else?…

…oh yeah – bicycling!

I got to meet the new Kate Spade Abici, whom I keep calling Kermit Spade, to Trisha’s chagrin.  With Trisha on KS and me on the Bat, we rode downtown and crossed the pedestrian bridge for a view of the Nashville skyline.

Yeah, we’re cool.

I must share, there are a number of weirdo men loitering around downtown Nashville who were quite interested in us.  We handled them effectively with stoney silence, which we’re both really good at when we put our minds to it.

After the bridge, we rode over to Broadway, with its honky tonks and cowboy boot shops.

We really should have stopped to take advantage of the 3-boots-for-the-price-of-one deal – missed opportunity.

Bicycling in Nashville was a great pleasure for me.  The weather is not yet at Southern summer oppressiveness.  The infrastructure is quite supportive of cycling, with wide bike lanes on many medium-sized streets and plenty of winding back roads with almost no cars at all.  Drivers seemed to display the fabled Southern hospitality, although I’m prone to romaticize it now that I don’t live there anymore.  One guy in a work truck blocking the bike lane drawled, “Pardon me, ladies,” which made me inordinately happy.

Today my thighs are sore from all those hills (damn! major props to Trisha for handling those every day) but it was worth it.

I make it to Nashville at least once a year, for Trisha’s birthday, but hopefully it won’t take me a year to return this time.  Chicago is comparatively cold in all ways.

Many more photos from our Nashville adventures and Trisha’s Abici to come.

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Seven on Sunday

Here’s my twist on the “Ten on Tuesday” meme:

1.)  I’m even more annoyed at the pharmaceutical industry this week, because Allegra would be the perfect name for the Kate Spade Abici if allergy meds hadn’t made it there first.

2.) Loving the coaster brake on the Abici, but still working on my gracefullness skills when it comes to starting and stopping with it. Though the handbrake helps, starting in particular can be a bit awkward (especially if I am on a hill). I plan on posting about this at length later, once I get my thoughts together, but would be happy for any tips.

3.) I admit it: I watched the royal wedding before going to work on Friday morning. Friends, scones and mimosas were involved. Kate’s dress was beautiful.

4.) I need to get out of my comfort zone more. During a ride home from happy hour on Friday, I spotted a new bike lane on Edgehill that’s probably not that new since it’s been a few months since I rode that way. A good reminder to continue to push my biking horizons.

5.) One of the items that’s kept me from the blog lately is working to help plan the Tour de Nash. It’s just three weeks from now, on May 21, and two of the four rides are completely free. It’s a great way to tour Nashville’s greenways and bike lanes—you should all come out.

6.) My homestate of Alabama is reeling from the mile-wide tornados that struck on Wednesday, the most deadly natural disaster since Hurricane Katrina. As the story develops it becomes more and more obvious how bad things are down there. My uncle is a state trooper who works the Tuscaloosa area, and the photographs and stories from that area are heartbreaking. There are a lot of small communities outside Birmingham that are equally bad off. Almost half a million people in North Alabama are still without power after a major TVA plant was destroyed.  If you want to help, you can donate to the Red Cross (text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10).

6.) And now, to end on a more positive note: Dottie is here! We are happily biking, shopping & eating (rinse and repeat!) and made a visit to the Mercy Lounge to see Those Darlins. One more day of fun before she has to go back to Chicago. We haven’t been as good as we should have been about taking pictures (yet) but hopefully we’ll make up for it tomorrow when we do our Abici photo shoot.

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